Backing Up Emergency Vehicles

Backing up emergency vehicles continues to be a hazardous operation for emergency services personnel. There have been several firefighter fatalities in the last three years from being struck by backing emergency vehicles, particularly fire apparatus. All departments should make sure that there are proper procedures in place for backing apparatus and that those procedures are followed every time an emergency vehicle moves in reverse.

To assist departments in developing backing up SOPs, prioritizing safety when backing up, and training their personnel in recommended backing up procedures, the Emergency Responder Safety Institute collaborated with Mike Wilbur (FDNY ret., nationally-recognized expert in emergency vehicle operations, and CEO of Emergency Vehicle Response) to produce two training videos and a written guideline for a recommended procedure for backing apparatus. The videos use fire apparatus as the example, but the safety practices taught are applicable to all emergency response vehicles. For more information on the development of these training materials, please view the news article.

These FREE training materials related to the hazards of backing up are available here: - Video: Best Practices for Backing Fire Apparatus and Ambulances — 10 minutes long, appropriate for initial, in-service, and refresher training. - Video: Roadway Safety Short How To Safely Back Up an Emergency Vehicle — 4 minutes long, appropriate for refresher training, roll call, shift change, and safety breaks. - Guide: Best Practices for Backing Fire Apparatus and Ambulances — written guideline outlining proper safety practices for backing fire department and EMS vehicles and maneuvering in close-quarters situations.

Suggested individual training plans are also available for all department members to prioritize and train on backing up procedures independently. These individual training plans suggest activities based on the person’s role (leadership, officer or supervisor, training officers and instructors, safety officers, PIOs and public educators, and frontline responders). These plans are an excellent way to provide programming for your department members during special focus times, such as Safety Stand Down Week, National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week, and National EMS Week. Please consult the following pages for these individual training plans:

Using real case study examples and their lessons learned can be an effective way to drive home the importance of complying with backing up SOP every time. The following case studies and articles are available to share with your department.

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